A RIBBLE Valley Conservative councillor has defected to the borough’s Labour group, boosting the number of opposition councillors which rose significantly after this year’s local elections.

Derek Brocklehurst, an Alston and Hothersall ward councillor at Longridge, was elected in May as a Conservative. But he says he has become disillusioned with the Tories nationally and excited at Labour.

Cllr Brocklehurst, aged 52,  said: “I joined Labour after some negotiations in recent weeks. I don’t think the Conservatives nationally are doing their job properly.

"I don’t feel I fit with the Conservatives any more, with all their in-fighting and issues like immigration and the NHS.

“I’ve not felt this excited about Labour since the Tony Blair era. I’m excited about Keir Starmer. The Labour Party has changed a lot since  Jeremy Corbyn. It’s more stable, more dynamic and more able to help working people.”

Cllr Brocklehurst grew up in Manchester then later lived in Chorley  before moving to the Ribble Valley. He works as a transport manager.

Asked how ward voters might feel about his move from one party to another, he said: “I joined the Conservative Party in April just before I stood for election.

"My whole ethos is to help people. I thought being a local councillor would enable me to do that. The opportunity came with the Conservatives to stand. But over time, I have become disillusioned with the Conservative Party.

“The ward where I stood is a two-councillor ward, I was elected unopposed along with Jim Rogerson. We were both elected

"In Longridge, there’s now a lot of Labour councillors. It’s now primarily a Labour area. So my move to Labour is in-keeping with the wider changes and feelings of the area. I also feel at home in Labour. 

"Also, this isn’t the first time that a Conservative councillor has left the group. It’s happened in the past.”

Lee Jameson, leader of the Labour group at Ribble Valley Council, said: “Derek is a great addition to our now eight-strong Labour group. We will be using his experience for the benefit of all residents in Longridge and across the Ribble Valley.”

The move means there are now eight Labour and Labour-Co-operative councillors, eight Lib-Dems and two Green Party councillors at Ribble Valley Council.  There are 17 Conservatives, the ruling group, and five independents.

The Conservative group has been approached for comment.